Monday, May 4, 2009

The Top 20 (In No Particular Order) - Chapter III

It's been a while, but I'm back @ it again, and this time I'm heading back to the East Coast to show some love.

5) Ready to Die: IT'S THE N-O, T-O, R-I, O, U-S, YOU JUST LAY DOWN, SLOW!!! Mr. Christopher doubt one of the illest emcees to rock the mic. He made brothers on the big side elevate their mack status so that it wasn't just the pretty boys having all the fun with B.I.G Poppa, and growing up was so very necessary. My deep appreciation and awe didn't begin with "Poppa," but rather a song entitled "JUICY." It was basically a b-boy's dream on wax. "Birthdays were the worst days. Now we drink champagne when we're thirsty," and "Thinking back to our one room shack, now my mom pimps an Ac(ura) with minks on her back." It was what every young man from a middle income and below family fantasized about. Growing up...handling theirs...and taking care of his own, all painted so vividly through lyrics delivered as though it was a personal moment you were sharing with B.I.G. I recall hearing many folks, famous and infamous, from Brooklyn speak of how when B.I.G got put on, it was like everybody made it. I can feel that thru the song as well, and I'm from Houston, TX.
It was more than just vivid storytelling & delivery that made B.I.G so ill lyrically.
Even in simple "gangsta" talk of, "7 mack 11's, about 8 thirty-eight's, 9 nines, 10 mack 10 mack ten's the shit never ends" there's a clever rhyme scheme. What's even more striking is where the "ammunition list" was from the 95 freestyle, much of the "gangsta" content within the album carried far more deeper meanings. Much of the material within the album contained suicidal & paranoid undertones where as a listener you were torn between admiration & pity for this proposed protagonist. "Damn, niggaz wanna stick me for my paper." Ready to Die was more than an concept album...more than the debut of a vital was a movie on wax.

6) Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers): As a child, & still much to this day, I've held a reverence for the martial arts. Bruce Lee was my hero. Saturdays would be spent watching cartoons first, & martial arts movies afterwards before going outside to become a ninja turtle for the day. Yeah, I was stupid like that, so it wasn't too surprising when I first heard the 9 deep squad of ill lyricists from the slums of Shaolin it was automatic. I was hooked. The "G-Funk Era" was in full effect. Medium tempo, funky beats with smooth delivery from the likes of Snoop, Warren-G, Dr. Dre, etc. were on full blast. Then, all of a sudden, something raw came from the east. Everything from the content of the lyrics to the lo-fi sound of the boom-bap was gritty. This wasn't music to ride out to, for where the west-coast sound resembled the Cali lifestyle, the 36 Chamber painted a picture of cold, hard New York City streets. At times it was dangerous & threatening, other times it was wise & humorous. Never before had I listened to hip-hop & felt the ominous tone that was present within that of a Metallica, but the Wu brought that hype, like you wanted to just smash some shit. Songs like "Protect Ya' Neck," "Bring the Ruckus," "Clan In Da Front" were the soundtrack to many mosh pits, boxing, & wrestling matches with friends, while "Can It Be All So Simple" the CLASSIC "C.R.E.A.M" exposed the perils of life in the projects for urban youth. The WU was undeniable, & along with Nas, Notorious B.I.G, & the Fugees, the East Coast Hip-Hop Renaissance had begun, & as a young b-boy in the middle of the two regions pushing the boundaries of Hip-Hop, the early 90's couldn't get any better. That is until two brothers from the ATL set it off for all of us in the South, but that's another story...for another time.

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